Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Sack of The Arts

They're at it again: faced with budget cuts the legislative solution is to lay out the arts for gutting. Nevermind the elephant in the room (and that can be interpreted another way): when administrative costs and enumerable other misplaced priorities are factored into the equation, education - specifically the arts in this instance - will always be the perennial sacrificial lamb moose. And this is happening hand in glove at both the borough district schools and at the university level, so it's a wholesale assault on programs and classes that enrich not just our communities now, but on our collective, cultural future.
Case in point: $1.4 Billion was promised as credits to the oil companies and $32.2 Million was promised to the children of Alaska. Should the State break its "promise" to the oil companies, or should it break its promise to the schoolchildren of Alaska? How we cut, where we cut, makes all the difference. - "Keep The Promise" Sitka School District
 The ruling party has a vested self-interest in perpetuating - in this case investing in - a status quo of ignorance in aesthetics and ethics: after all it secures and expands their prospective, future voting base. Which appears to be the only investment in “education” they value. But it's ultimately the fault of voters - or more specifically the nonvoters who allow these barbarians to routinely pillage like this. Remember that - remember this - the next election.

And as for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board, you should be ashamed. In fact, maybe you should have the common sense and decency to simply resign. All of you. In accordance with your stated objectives, your priorities are corrupted... and someone ought to change your mission statements to reflect this. Consider this your formal Notice of Doubtful Status.

I know a lot of folks who only made it through school on account of there being art and music classes. For me the studios were an oasis of individuality in a sea of rules and conformity. And each and every time I do a guest artist gig at a school in art classes, I run across many a student who wouldn’t have stuck with it if it weren’t for some other avenue of expression for them. Also, as an example of how these classes round people out into future adults with diverse interests, appreciations and abilities, I don’t personally know any artists who aren’t also something else: a scientist, a teacher, a cook, a parent, a mechanic, an accountant, etc. Personally I don’t know many people who also don’t enjoy some kind of art, there's always something, a certain song, that made their day better, if not their entire life more worth living. It’s as much a part of our lives as it is a part of school: we learn new things about ourselves and other people when we share it.

Update: Alaska Commons reports on one of the saddest, hypocritical posturing and disingenuous maneuvering with "Legislators Dedicate Week to ‘School Choice’ in Alaska." These selfsame committee members - including deluded Democrats and Independent politicians who participate in the ongoing charade - are following the standard cynical Republican approach to education (as with every other governmental function): consistently oppose, derail, undermine and underfund it, so that when it finally starts to break, they can then point at the smoking wreckage and say “See – we TOLD you it doesn’t work!” Then repeat, ad nauseum, until their ultimate objective of for-profit privatization is achieved. It's part of a self-fulfilling cycle of crippling our schools, which ensures parents will instead enroll their kids in charter schools… because they offer things like… the arts.

Insert “a markedly derogatory term for a person who behaves stupidly.” I’ve just about exhausted my repertoire of insulting and pejorative words used to describe politicians, as the language instilled in me during my (de)formative years is generally frowned upon in polite company. Which I am most decidedly not, at least when it comes to some of the slack-jawed idiocy and contempt on display by elected officials, especially when it comes to matters of education.

This is how bad it’s gotten: it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel when someone like me decides that they’ve had enough of such rampant stupidity. By that I mean A) someone who is not a parent and has no children in the district, and B) is themselves a highschool dropout. You’d think those two points alone would disqualify anyone from taking an interest in the process, especially in conjunction with a deep-seated, inherent distrust of both of the bureaucratic monoliths of governmental + educational power structures. Sad to say it’s true, when things devolve to this point even folks like me sit up and take notice. I’m past being polite, I’m pissed: it’s political, it’s personal.

"If I don't hafta pay for my art than nobody else should either"

Update II: True to form + party dictates (predictable as ever), Wasilla Rep. Lynn Gattis has proposed doing away with the 1% for Art program with HB 160: "REPEAL ART IN PUBLIC PLACES REQUIREMENT."  One can only hazard a guess as to her personal aesthetic sensibilities, but it's a good bet maybe a picture or two on the office wall would help with staring out the window while at work.

Update III: And yet another Wasilla Republican just gutted all the funds for Alaska Public Media (television + radio). Link.

Update IV: Not to lay everything on Wasilla Republicans...
State Senate Finance Committee slashes education funding: JUNEAU — The Senate Finance Committee made some deep, last-minute cuts to education funding when wrapping up its work on the state’s operating budget on Thursday.

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